Posted: Fri 1st May 2020

North Wales health board’s Marbella-based ‘recovery director’ has contract terminated early

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Friday, May 1st, 2020

A consultant dubbed “Marbella Man” because he did some of his work from his Spanish home while earning almost £2,000 a day has had his contract terminated early by a health board. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Phillip Burns was installed as Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s interim recovery director by former chief executive Gary Doherty in a bid to revive its fortunes. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

The board has been in special measures – the highest form of Welsh Government intervention – since June 2015. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

The recovery programme Mr Burns was in charge of was supposed to yield savings and efficiencies for the organisation. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

But the board’s projected deficit to the end of the 2019-2020 financial year is expected to be around £57.72m – up from £42m in 2019. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

The board is also expecting additional pressures of around £10m caused by the coronavirus pandemic as it looks to make savings of £45m this financial year. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

It emerged in an FOI that the Welsh Government was to finance £350,000 towards payments made to Mr Burns. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

His post was one of 38 management consultant roles uncovered by Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

He said: “At the same time they were paying Mr Burns, they tried to introduce changes to thousands of nurses’ rotas that would have meant NHS staff having to work an extra shift a month for nothing. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“The savings from that plan, which were shelved but not abandoned by the board after opposition by trade unions and Plaid Cymru, would have been less than Mr Burns was being paid for his nine-month stint as ‘recovery director’. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“It now emerges that his contract has been terminated with two months to go. So the positive news is that the board has saved £70,000, but they’ve paid him almost £300,000 in eight months to achieve what exactly? ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“I understand that the focus of both the board and Welsh Government must be to deal with Covid-19 in the short term, but at some stage we must have answers about the £5m spent in recent years on these management consultants in north Wales. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“The claim was that they would turn round the health board’s financial crisis but that has, if anything intensified, and these consultants will disappear with huge chunks of money that could have gone to deliver testing and better healthcare during this pandemic.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Mr Burns’ contract was due to expire in June, but a spokesman for the health board confirmed it had been finished early and his contract had not been paid up in full. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

The spokesman said: “Mr Burns’ contract was ended on April 21. The health board took the decision to stand down the recovery programme for a period of time to focus on the COVID-19 response.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

In all, Mr Burns was due to earn more than £360,000 for his nine-month-stint, while conducting 20% of it from his home in Marbella. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Mr Doherty left his £200,000-a-year chief executive role to become director of integration at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in February this year. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

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